You might find yourself with a lot more time on your hands these days. In another time, it could have been exciting to have nothing to do, but right now, it might make you feel frustrated, sad, and helpless. Spending many days at home without seeing your extended social network can take a toll on a lot of people. And when you've got a lot of time on your hands, you're most likely to resort to scrolling through your phone nonstop and getting sucked in the news cycle vortex.
But it doesn't have to be all that bad. It helps to look on the bright side of things. One, if you are able to stay at home with not much to do in the midst of a global pandemic, you could consider yourself fortunate. Not everyone has the luxury of that—many in essential industries and businesses are working hard to help others and keep things running.
Two, while it might seem like you have nothing to do, there's always something that can occupy your time, even if it's something as little as drinking a glass of water, reading a book, journaling, or stretching. Really savor those little moments right now. I find that it helps the time go by faster. For instance, last weekend, I took two hours to set up a new mirror jewelry cabinet in my apartment. I went about it in a very leisurely way, screwing everything in and hanging it, and then took my time sorting through my jewelry. Some of the stuff I'd had since high school, like bad costume jewelry, so it was fun to think back to the memories I had when wearing those pieces.
Anyway, what I'm saying is, choose your activities and savor them. Here's a list of some we recommend.
I'm using this time to get through at least a sliver of my very long TBR (to-be-read) list. The best part of getting really into a book is you're not tempted to look at your phone, and I'm really trying to get off of it these days. Need some book recs? We've got them here.
Or watch a movie. Or better yet, watch that show you like to watch over and over again for extra comfort during a tough time. My go-to? Gilmore Girls.
There are so many great podcasts to choose from, so even if you have a very specific interest (for me, it's Tudor history), you'll probably find at least one show to listen to. I've been listening to history podcasts while doing the below on our list…
A puzzle is a twofer: It's both entertaining and gets your brain working.
But while practicing good social distancing by doing it over video chat, of course. While card games or board games are a bit tough to do virtually, you can play something like charades, Heads Up, or Pictionary. Get creative!
If learning how to knit has been on your to-do list for a while, now might be the time to give it a try. Or you could even opt for some nostalgic crafts, like Shirnky Dinks or Perler beads. And if you don't feel like taking on a craft project, you can always open a coloring book.
This is inspired by the many friends who have recently decided to use this time to learn this new hobby. Also, I've read that Meghan Markle used to pick up calligraphy gigs as a side hustle, so anything that's good for Meghan is good for me.
Working on a crossword puzzle gives your brain something else to focus on instead of the news. You can download an app on your phone (the New York Times one never fails me), or order a book.
I mean, why not? You might not have this much free time without many social obligations ever again in your lifetime. You've got options, too, like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel. Allez-y! Vas-y!
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Yes, museums and cultural institutions are closed right now, but that shouldn't stop you from soaking up some art or a cool photography exhibit. Many museums, art galleries, zoos, and more are offering virtual exhibits.
Set Aside Time for Self-Care
If getting your nails done was a big part of your self-care routine, that doesn't mean you have to give it up when you're at home. Get out your favorite nail polish, or treat yourself to a kit.
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We've written about the benefits of meditation for sleep and symptoms of anxiety and depression before, so it's definitely one of the best things you can do for your self-care. Plus, your mental health might need a little bit more TLC at this moment.
Just stepping outside for a few minutes can really clear your head and make you feel better.
Yes, it's a self-care basic, but when you put on a face mask, it pretty much forces you to stay in place for a bit (so you don't mess it up) and just relax.
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Or dad, or siblings, or friends. Whoever it is, pick up the phone and give them a call. As a millennial, I know at lot of us are strictly only into texting, but just hearing someone's voice can boost your mood.
Virtual happy hours are the thing to do right now. If you haven't done so yet, schedule one with your friends. It will be fun to see everyone's faces in one screen and (hopefully) talk about things not related to what's happening at the moment.
This could be a good opportunity to reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while but are thinking about.
Your legs will thank you. Just make sure you're practicing safe social distancing.
If you're reading this right now with your shoulders hunched, or lying on your bed in an uncomfortable position, you probably need a good stretch. Take a few minutes to stretch out your whole body. It's ideal to try to do it a couple of times per day.
If you don't want to go outside, you can take a stroll around your place. Yes, even if you're working with a studio apartment. Do it with mindfulness, and you'll get some steps in.
Just like celeb trainers bringing their workouts to the masses on Instagram, many professional dancers are also hosting dance parties on social media or on video conference platforms. Tune in to one of those, or go at it on your own. Turn on your favorite song and just let the music take over.
Cross Things Off Your To-Do List
Doing household chores might not be the most exhilarating thing, but listen, you're spending more time at home, so it probably needs a cleaning. Plus, it's good practice to disinfect surfaces regularly—especially now.
Or organize any part of your house that needs some TLC. It's a great way to take stock of what you currently have, declutter, and maybe even find something you haven't used or worn in a while that you're excited about.
You might not have all the ingredients on hand to make a three-course meal, but this could be a fun time to "pantry forage" and make a dish with the things you already have on hand. It's time to get creative (and pretend you're on Chopped).
The scenery can get a bit old when you're spending so much time at home. So give it a spruce-up by moving things around or redecorating with stuff you already have.
There's nothing quite like slipping into bed with freshly cleaned sheets. What a treat!